Women in the Performing Arts

Mahalia Jackson

32-cent Mahalia Jackson stamp
The Mahalia Jackson stamp was issued July 15, 1998.

Mahalia Jackson’s (1911-1972) early life consisted of many trials and tribulations. Her mother died when she was still a child, and as a result of economic difficulties within her family, Jackson did not even complete her elementary school education. Despite these hardships, Jackson grew up to have a very successful career in the music industry. A large part of her success came from the fact that she combined jazz and blues sounds with more traditional gospel music in order to achieve a sound that appealed to more secular audiences. In addition to her music career, Jackson was also very involved in humanitarian work and the civil rights movement, which gave her the opportunity to sing before Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech.” In 1972 Mahalia Jackson won a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Grammy to honor her contributions to American music.